Fulham V Blackburn
Sunday 13 September
Live on Sky Sports 5
Kit Symons' men finally got off the mark for the season with a 3-1 win at Rotherham prior to the international break. In their two home games so far the Cottagers conceded an injury-time winner against Brighton and then grabbed a 94th minute equaliser at the expense of Huddersfield but it's been an unconvincing start to the season overall and they don't currently look like a side who are going to be mounting a promotion challenge.
However, there were plenty of new faces who arrived during the transfer window with midfielder Tom Cairney joining from their opponents here for £3 million, while Tim Ream was signed for around £2 million from Bolton, where he was player of the season for the past two years, and fellow defender Richard Stearman was lured from Wolves on deadline day.
A goalless draw with Bolton in front of the Friday night cameras, last time out, wasn't much of an advert for second tier football and left Rovers still searching for a first win of the season. Gary Bowyer will feel his side should have won, though, with star striker Jordan Rhodes missing a couple of great chances. Despite the constant transfer rumours, he's still at Ewood Park but is yet to show anything like his best form so far this season.
After defeat at Brighton in their last away game, the club had to deny rumours that Bowyer had become the first managerial casualty of the season and you get the feeling he is currently just one bad defeat away from the chop - they currently sit in 21st place with three draws and two losses from the first five games.
This looks a trappy affair with the two sides having managed just one win between them from ten league games so far this season and the market agrees - Fulham are slight favourites at 2.546/4 with the visitors (who haven't won any of their last five away from home) priced at 2.962/1 and the draw available to back at 3.55/2. It's not a match-up which is going to get many neutrals' juices flowing and the match odds market is probably one to pass on this occasion.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 goals is favoured by the market at 1.8910/11 and that's probably based on Rovers' last four games, all of which have gone under the line. With his team short of confidence and struggling for goals, Bowyer, you think, will set his men up here to try and avoid defeat and the inevitable fresh scrutiny of his position that another reverse would bring. You can see why I'm not expecting this to be a thriller of any sort.
Admittedly, the Cottagers have scored in each of their five games this season but asides from those three at rock-bottom Rotherham last time out they have managed just a single goal per game. With this Sunday lunchtime kick-off in front of what will be a fairly empty Craven Cottage, the game could lack any kind of real urgency or atmosphere and backing unders looks a solid call at the price available.
Although 11 of the 12 games over the weekend before the international break ended in victories (the exception being Rovers' point with Bolton) prior to that nearly 50% of Championship matches this season had been draws (23/47) - an indication of how closely matched most of the sides are in this division. Backing the 1-1 has been a profitable strategy so far this season and it's probably the most likely scoreline again here.
Rhodes scored in both games against Fulham last season and, given the Cottagers have fallen behind in each of their home league games this campaign, I'm going to have a small play on the scorecast over at the Sportsbook. A striker of Rhodes' quality has to start finding the net at this level and although it's a longshot it's one I'm going to take to half-stakes as my second bet here.
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.8910/11
Back Jordan Rhodes/1-1 in the scorecast at Sportsbook at 31.030/1 *half stakes
You can read my previews of all the live Championship games here along with Mike Norman's Saturday 3pm tipsheets